Coronavirus & Christianity
Well this is a first time for me, writing about a virus. Now, granted, I actually have written about many spiritual virus’ and soul-sucking diseases, but never on one that was specifically a physical virus.
So, first a disclaimer: The virus is real, it has caused people’s deaths, and it is something that can be caught in the United States no matter how powerful or careful we are. Each of us should be wise and use caution by not being in people’s faces, washing our hands, and if we are sick, stay home for crying out loud!
I probably shake more peoples hands than most and I do it each and every weekend. Additionally, if you watch me I also use a whole lot of the antibacterial foam that is placed in multiple locations all around our foyer at Friendship Church (which have been there for years). I’m not paranoid, but I also don’t want to get sick. I have a wife that has two auto-immune diseases and I don’t want her to get sick. So I tend to bathe in the stuff each weekend, and I know I shouldn’t, but I actually put that stuff on my face sometimes…again I don’t want to get sick.
BUT – being wise and cautious is a far cry from what we are witnessing in many circles today. I’m old enough to remember a few other times that people reacted like this. For instance, there was this thing called Y2k. It was a computer glitch that was going to shut down the world, throw us into the dark ages, cause mass havoc, undermine national security. Interesting enough there were certain sectors of our markets that made billions off of supposed ‘fixes’ to the Y2K issue, and guess what, when the clocks rolled over to midnight and it turned 01/01/2000…nothing happened. Hysteria and panic make people do stupid and unwise things.
So, seriously though, how should Christians react to this? First, be smart. I love it when Jesus tells the disciples to be “…innocent as doves but as wise as serpents”. Now, he was specifically talking about how they ministered to people, but I believe it is applicable here too. For example, it’s probably not a great time to reinstate the “…greet each other with a holy kiss…” idea!
But most importantly I believe that Scripture compels us to be calm, to not fear, to not panic, or act as if we are abandoned. I remember several years ago I was undergoing a procedure, it was a small issue and it was with local anesthetic so I was awake the whole time. After the procedure was over, the doctor came back in the room and began to have a conversation with me. This was peculiar because before he stated, “I won’t see you after, I’ve got 7 more minor surgeries to do today.” Yet, there he was…he even sat down on the counter. After a few moments of chit-chat he said the following, “I don’t believe in God. I actually have several pastors as patients and they all pretty much react the same way everyone else does when they hear bad news. (and here is the kicker) But you were calm the whole time, it’s clear that you actually believe what you preach. I’m not saying this is changing my mind or anything, but I’m not going to lie, your reaction made me think.”
I’m not sharing this for you to be like, “Wow, Dave is such a super-Christian!” nope, I have good days and bad days, and that one was apparently a good one! My point is, my reaction to a non-optimal situation spoke volumes about the God I serve to a man who didn’t even believe he existed! (take two seconds and read that again)
Every cultural hysteria, crisis, disaster, etc… is an opportunity for the church of Jesus Christ to shine. To shine our love, our care, our courage, and yes our calm.
Luke the author of Acts records an amazing moment in the early church when Peter and John were standing in front of a court, literally with their lives hanging in the balance:
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. – Acts 4:13
Then Paul gives us a command, notice it’s not a suggestion, but a command:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
I know stuff like this can be scary sometimes, I get that. But the situation around you does not change the God within you! He is still the same yesterday, today, and forever. He’s still in control, he still holds all things together, and yes indeed he is still the Great Physician.
PS – Just to wrap this all up, be wise, be cautious, and be calm, because your response speaks volumes about the God you say you believe in!